In rural Pakistan, the artist collective Sabah creates a range of intricately beautiful woven goods, the vast majority of which are made by women. The organization is led by powerhouse seamstress Gohar Sajid, who was born and raised in the village of Bhutri. Unlike many Pakistani girls, Sajid went to school before she married, and eventually started a group of talented local artisans.
One of Sabah Pakistan’s specialties is phulkhari embroidery, which means flower work. Used very often to make wedding and dowry items in splendid color combinations, phulkari work is radiant and happy.
To start their process, women head to local markets in and outside of the city of Lahore to purchase cloth and thread. The artists rely on traditional, often century-old patterns and motifs, many of which are specific to certain villages and tribes, as the basis for their designs, but each also injects her own unique style into each piece.
Using skills once exclusively passed from grandmother to daughter to granddaughter, Sabah Pakistan’s artists are now keen on sharing techniques and ideas, encouraging young people to pick up needle and thread to preserve these beguilingly beautiful and ancient art forms – and to express themselves. Sabah Pakistan’s designers have caught the eye of an international audience, which founder Gohar Sajid hopes will enrich the economic and creative lives of seamstresses for generations to come.